A day of cutting-edge technology, horrible variations on the theme of "mint" and a weird guy in an orange suit. What more could you possibly want?
While it's true that the majority of the stands were geared towards operators and businesses, there was also plenty there for enthusiasts as well.
As soon as everyone got in the entrance, a cloud of dust and the sound of running feet told me the AAS team had made a beeline for the Sony Ericsson stand and the P990. Certainly quite an impressive device, sporting a high resolution display, WiFi and UIQ 3/Symbian OS 9. The keyboard's buttons are very small - I am not sure how useful it will be.
Once the thrill of the P990 began to wear off, next stop was the Symbian stand, where every Symbian phone available was on display. I take back all the nasty stuff I said in the Samsung thread as there were not one, but two brand new Series 60 Samsung phones, fully working, on display. The D720 is the slider phone everyone has been expecting and could well draw in many of the D500 users to Series 60. The D730 is a clamshell phone is in the style of all other Samsung phones - functional but not particularly interesting. Staying away from the big two, one of my personal favourites was the Panasonic X800. A very thin clamshell phone with a neat design and a very bright, very clear screen. Someone should send one to Nokia with a note on it saying "Learn". The released Symbian FOMA phones also made an appearance, with designs ranging from boring to bizarre.
The Series 60 stand also held a few surprises. A prototype of the 3250 was on display (it looks chunkier than it actually is, somewhat in contrast to the N90). The N90 and N70 were also on display. Further interest was provided in the multiplayer (over a 3G network connection) game of Rally Pro, with players visible on a big screen to spectators. The fastest time won an N90, however yours truly came a miserable fourth out of four. Pathetic scores aside, it gave an important demonstration as to the potential of multiplayer 'over the air' gaming and could be a big target for operators in future.
Many of the larger developers from the Symbian world had stands at the show. DataViz were demoing Documents To Go on a Nokia 9300. This version, with the DataViz InTact tchnology, looks set to be a great workaround to all the formatting problems in Series 80 platform's built in 'Word' word processor. Quickoffice were demoing their Office Suite product on Series 60 and UIQ, and were the only third party software running on the Sony Ericsson P990. Access were also present showing their Netfront browser which has recently added PDF support, although it was definitely a case of 'Don't mention the P-S word'...
It seems as though developers are increasingly turning to Java to open up their products to a wider range of users. Opera were displaying Opera Mini, the Java based version of their highly popular web browser. Also of interest in this area was Telmap's stand. Anyone that has used Wayfinder will be familiar with the idea of a GPS system that delivers routing information via GPRS. What Telmap have done is taken that technology and adapted it to be less of a problem in areas of poor coverage. 'Corridors' of data are downloaded along with the planned route and new data only has to be downloaded if you stray too far from the optimum path. Telmap have done both Java and native Symbian versions, giving them an impressive target range of phones.
All in all, it was a really great experience with highly surreal moments, such as being stalked by a slow moving guy in an orange suit and a mission to see if there were any mints that could surpass the abominations [oi - don't knock the mints! - Ed.] given out by UIQ.
- Stuart and Paul take a lighter look at The Smartphone Show with the 'AAS Gourmet Guide to Tradeshow Mints'.
- Exclusive interview with the guy in the orange suit (extract below):
AAS: So, you're advertising which company?
Orange Guy: ...
AAS: Is your face usually that colour or did someone chuck a can of paint over you?
Orange Guy: ...
AAS: Where can I get a hat like yours?
Orange Guy: ...
Footnote. Thomas and I (SL) were only there on the Tuesday, but Rafe was there both days and will be penning some more technical articles looking at launches from the whole Show and including the new Nokia business handsets. Watch this space!